BMC complementary and alternative medicine. 2019;19(1):27
Plain language summary
Emblica officinalis (Amla or Indian gooseberry) is a fruit that has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been shown to be effective in the management of dyslipidemia (abnormal fat metabolism), a risk factor for heart disease, in animal models and in pilot clinical studies without major side effects. This multicenter, randomised, placebo controlled, double blind clinical trial was designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a proprietary full spectrum amla extract (containing pulp and seeds) in patients with dyslipidemia. 98 patients were enrolled and all completed the 12 week study. None of them were taking any medication for their dyslipidaemia. All the patients enrolled in the study were also asked to initiate lifestyle changes (healthy diet with exercise at least 4 days a week). Apart from conventional lipid parameters, the investigators also measured a number of other parameters relevant to heart disease, including the atherogenic index of plasma (AIP, a marker of heart disease risk). Compared to the placebo group the amla group had significantly greater reductions in triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, VLDL-cholesterol and the atherogenic index of plasma (AIP, a better predictor of heart disease risk). There were no significant changes in HDL-cholesterol, CoQ10 (lowering of CoQ10 is a concern with many cholesterol lowering drugs), homocysteine, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) or fasting blood glucose. Four non-serious adverse events were observed: mild headache, mild fever, two times gastritis (all resolved with standard treatment), three were in the placebo group, one in the amla group. There were no changes in routine blood tests and vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, respiratory rate). The authors conclude that the amla extract has significant potential to improve dyslipidaemia without side effects commonly seen with cholesterol lowering drugs.